LA CROSSE, WIS — After nearly two months of quarantining, La Crosse resident Tim Schultz has waxed poetic, finding sad and ironic symbolism in nearly everything.
“Just this morning I woke up to the gentle kiss of a glowing sunrise nestled in a clear blue sky, a signal of new beginnings, but of course my window shade broke and cascaded down, obscuring my view of beauty, just like me in my life right now,” Schultz said as he stared at the floor in his apartment Thursday morning.
Schultz says he sees this kind of symbolism everywhere and is finding it increasingly difficult to avoid drawing parallels to his own life.
“Figurative language, once so insightful and majestic, has become a terrible monstrosity weighing on me like a thousand shackles, but alas that bird has flown the cage, leaving me alone with only its droppings on last week’s newspaper,” Schultz added.
Nature is not the only source of inspiration for Schultz’s melancholic musings.
Last week, while taking a walk downtown, Schultz noticed how deserted the normally bustling streets and establishments were. He then observed a single tattered plastic shopping bag rising and floating through the air with the wind.
The aura of desolate isolation was not lost on Schultz, who immediately took it to a heavy place.
“I’m that bag,” he reflected. “Aimless, at the whim of circumstance, facing these cruel forces alone. Do we really control anything?”
Schultz says he has tried to look for silver linings in his ruminative symbolism, but the realities are stark and gloomy, much like when he attempted to upcycle a hubcap into an artistic planter.
“I just found it [the hubcap] lying in the street and thought I could turn it into something beautiful that would make people smile as they walked by,” Schultz said.
Using sandpaper, yarn, spray paint, Dixie cups, and a couple paper clips, Schultz converted the old hubcap into a hanging planter holding several types of flowers. He brushed a smiley face and the quote “You can dance in the rain” across the front of the piece.
Unfortunately, the rusted hubcap was too weak and broke overnight, having collapsed under its own weight.
When he discovered the mess the next morning, Schultz could not help but see the irony in a broken pile of rubble that was intended to be a source of happiness.
“We toil endlessly to build happiness where we can, and in an instant it gets torn down. What happiness can last? What are my materials with which to build happiness? I have no tools for such a task,” Schultz said as he looked beyond the destroyed art piece toward the horizon.
Reporter Greg Lovell contributed to this article.